One World - Island SMAS 9492

6 Apr 1978
Boston Globe
Steve Morse
Reviews
John Martyn
One World
Island

John Martyn, who as a solo performer (just himself and guitar) has opened an American tour for Yes and will soon open another for Eric Clapton, is an underrated but magnetically engaging artist. His breathy, slurry, ebb-and-flow tenor -phrased as if he were a human saxophone- makes him sound like no one else. He's not pop, nor jazz, nor folk, but an inimitable merging of all three, sort of a male Joan Armatrading. He is always interesting and this album is no exception, from the Mike Oldfield cinematic mysticism of Big Muff to the throaty funkiness of Couldn't Love You More, backed by Steve Winwood's Yamaha organ. Winwood's own last album was a disappointment1 but he is his versatile self here, tastefully complementing Martyn's sensuous singing and mature, thoughtful lyrics. Martyn delves into unrequited love, anonymity ("I'm a smiling stranger, smiling stranger every day") and reconciliation to a world he sees as crazy but not intolerable. He has no answers, but the directions in which he points are well beyond most of his contemporaries.
— Steve Morse

sitenotes:
1 Steve Winwood's eponymous debut solo studio, released June 1977, three years after the break-up of Traffic. The album did not do well commercially.
This review was published in The Boston Globe on Thursday 6 April 1978, on page 52.

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